The UAE's Etisalat is angling to buy a controlling stake in Kuwaiti telco Zain.
Etisalat is in direct talks with shareholders that own a combined 46% of the company over buying their entire stakes, sources toldBloomberg. This would give Etisalat a controlling majority, as about 10% of Zain's shares are held as treasury stock.
The shareholders are thought to include the Kharafi family, who hold nearly a quarter of the company, and other investors associated with them, FT.comsaid.
Etisalat has offered 1.7 Kuwaiti dinars per share. The value of the entire 46% stake has been alternatively reported as $10.5 billion and $12 billion.
In separate statements, Etisalat has confirmed it made a conditional offer while Zain's board said it was not aware of a deal, meaning Etisalat took the deal directly to shareholders.
Etisalat has more than 100 million customers across 18 countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. But it derives around 85% of its income from its UAE operations, and wants to reduce its reliance on the increasingly saturated market.